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BYO iPads and iPhones invading your office? Here are the hidden costs

BYO iPads and iPhones invading your office? Here are the hidden costs

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Published by: quocirca on Sep 20, 2011
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BYO iPads and iPhones invading your office? Here are the hidden costs
Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst
 BYO iPads and iPhones invading your office? Here are the hidden costshttp://www.quocirca.com © 2011 Quocirca Ltd 
In all the talk about the consumerisation of IT, it's theencroachment of consumer mobile devices - inparticular smartphones and tablets - that appears tobe causing most passion.The pro argument generally consists of the followingstrands: employees are already used to better toolsin their personal life, we have to do this to recruit ayounger workforce, our brand will suffer if we're notseen as leading edge, and it's cheaper.Whatever the reality or merits of the first three, thelast point about cheapness deserves closer investigation along with the impact on organisationalsecurity.The problem is that allowing employees to pick,choose, buy and bring their own mobile tools into theworkplace seems like simply outsourcing a particular procurement issue to someone who cares morepassionately about it. However, it brings a lot morebaggage than the neat little black or white cardboardbox the hardware arrives in.There are three significant aspects to mobileconsumerisation - device, contract and content.Device is the part that most focus on, and why not?It's the shiny gadget that has become cool anddesirable. It taps into people's feelings about self-esteem and status as well as any social needs for connection or geeky desire for the latest toy.These devices are expensive so, on the face of it,encouraging employees to BYOD - bring/buy your own device - saves money.But there are bigger costs and risks at stakeelsewhere for the organisation. Mobile devicestypically need network contracts, unless relying onpay-as-you-go or free wi-fi for connection.All-embracing corporate contracts come with manyfinancial economies of scale that a chaotic collectionof independent employee ones will lack. Quocircahas explored this challenging issue more fully in itsrecent free-to-download report “Carrying the can”.The third area, content, is equally complex. Whoever owns and pays for a mobile device - employee or employer - its use is likely to straddle personal andbusiness activities. In addition to communicationstools and access for business applications, there willalways be a mass of consumer content.For smartphones and tablets, content includes bothsoftware and data. The line is often blurred, anddespite many technical and religious discussions, theunderlying issues of enterprise control of costs andrisks apply either way.The convergence of work and personal content onone device, no matter who purchased the hardwareor pays for the connection, raises the issues of content security, suitability and diligence.For most organisations, mobile security is a major concern, and rightly so, as it is not only maliciousacts such as theft and hacking or the careless loss of a device that might lead to breaches of security.Simply cutting corners for the sake of expediency willnot do.Two doctors were recently overheard on the traindiscussing how their operation lists were beingdownloaded to their iPhones. They found
it useful butwondered if it might not be good practice, althoughthey presumed there was insufficient detail to identifypatients.Whether this procedure was instigated by the userstrying to make their lives simpler or someone in ITwanting to appear useful, is irrelevant. Mobilesecurity needs to be seen to be taken seriously aswell as actually being addressed through suitable on-device software, content access practices andservices from providers.All too often it appears there has been only a limitedmobile security risk assessment or insufficient user training. These aspects may lack the intellectualpizzazz of security software, VPNs and all thingsprefixed 'cyber', but the social or human elements arecritical for addressing the weakest link - the user.
 BYO iPads and iPhones invading your office? Here are the hidden costshttp://www.quocirca.com © 2011 Quocirca Ltd 
For mobile devices, even the technical aspects of security are rarely completely understood in ITdepartments, and the more complex issues involvingthe diligence of checking suitability of use can reallyonly be answered by those responsible for businessprocesses.What is the right usage of any given application on amobile device? It might depend on the individual roleor department, work needs, employee location at themoment of access and actual device in use at thetime. This is a complex mix of business and socialrequirements that need suitable policies and tools for enforcement.Employees should know where they stand, what isacceptable and what is not. There are a number of mobile device-management tool vendors that havestepped into this adjacent area of monitoring,directing and curtailing user behaviours.While this might seem a bit Big Brother to some,many organisations will need audit trails to show theyhave sufficient safeguards in place to protectsensitive data. If the details of someone's medicaloperation were found on the train, blame would bepointed at the health authority or employer first, notthe employee.With BYOD, these management tools now have themore difficult task of projecting the need for organisational control onto the personal device of anindividual. They need to do this withoutcompromising the integrity of business activities or violating the individual's personal content or device.It is a fine line, and an easier way to tackle it wouldbe to have one device for work, one for home - asmany do now - but ultimately a portfolio of functionsor personalities will need to reside on a single device.The wave of virtualisation that hit the datacentre isalready travelling through the network as virtualprivate networks and virtual desktop infrastructures.These offer an insight into how businesses mightsecure BYOD, and may extend virtualisation further into multiple virtual personalities and operatingsystems on the mobile devices at the edge.All these developments have cost implications, andthese content considerations as well as the contractissues need taking into account when organisationsconsider the savings of allowing employees toacquire their own devices. Consumerisation islooking as simple and pain-free as convergence.
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